How Sex And Gender Will Affect The 2016 Presidential Election

By Morgan Chalfant

Sex sells: You've heard it a hundred times before. But, in 2016, sex might just decide the presidential election.

Even with only a handful of candidates officially in the race for the White House, sex has already taken on a primary role in the political arena.

From endorsements to gay marriage and gender to Bruce Jenner, here are the multiple ways sex is impacting America's political culture ahead of 2016:

Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina

There are now female candidates from both parties in the race for president: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (R).

Though Clinton has run for president before — unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination against Barack Obama in 2008 — the sex of candidates is, once again, a focus for 2016, as the prospect of electing the first female president of the United States is a factor in either primary fight.

Clinton, the Democratic favorite, is poised to capture her party's nomination in 2016, meaning there will likely be at least one female candidate fighting for the White House in the general election.

As such, gender will, undoubtedly, be a major point of focus throughout a potentially historic election.

Of course, the struggle will be for Americans to balance their desire to make history with their needs in a candidate.

Though individuals may want to elect a Clinton or a Fiorina to the White House, it's important for voters to back these candidates not because they are women but for the policies and stances they represent.

Female Candidates and "Sexist" Commentary

As two female candidates running for president, there is increased sensitivity to sexist commentary, which was illustrated by the actions of a pro-Clinton group earlier this year.

The self-proclaimed "HRC Super Volunteers," a group of Hillary fans united on Facebook, circulated an email to roughly 150 editors in newsrooms across the United States, warning reporters against spreading "sexist news coverage of any woman who chooses to break through glass ceilings."

The memo listed a dozen "sexist" words and phrases it cautioned journalists against using, including polarizing, calculating, disingenuous, insincere, ambitious, inevitable, entitled, over confident, secretive, "will do anything to win," "represents the past" and "out of touch."

The debate surrounding sexist coverage should only intensify as the 2016 election nears, as the media will strive to walk the thin line between slamming Clinton and Fiorina with terminology that could be deemed sexist and offering them preferential treatment because of their gender.

Marco Rubio and the Debate Surrounding Sexual Preference

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has made a name for himself among the rest of the GOP field in several ways, from his stance on immigration to his young age.

However, the lawmaker particularly made headlines since his campaign announcement on Apr. 13 for his views on gay marriage, bringing the question of whether sexual preference is a choice to the forefront.

Rubio told CBS News host Bob Schieffer days after his campaign launch that sexual preference is not a "choice," but rather, "something that people are born with."

This alone demonstrates how Rubio moved away from some of his anticipated GOP foes, like Dr. Ben Carson, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, all of who have intimated being gay is a choice.

As the candidates continue to pave their way to 2016, same-sex relationships in America will be a primary focus.

The Same-Sex Wedding Question

Another question that has been circulated to various Republican presidential contenders is whether or not they would attend a wedding of a same-sex couple, regardless of their views on gay marriage.

It's a question official GOP candidates — many of whom are personally not for the legalization of gay marriage and believe it to be a states' issue — will have to face at one point or another, and it is one several candidates have already nipped in the bud.

Rubio answered he would attend a gay wedding between two individuals he cares about. Perry also confronted the inquiry, saying he "probably would" attend such a ceremony.

While Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) dodged the question, insisting he hasn't "faced that circumstance," former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) said, outright, attending a same-sex ceremony would "be a violation of [his] faith."

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush also was asked the question, and he responded in Spanish "claro que sí" — yes, of course — he would attend a same-sex wedding, though he hasn't yet been faced with the circumstance.

Like the question of sexual preference, the gay wedding query will present candidates with an opportunity to provide context to their personal views about same-sex relationships and will offer voters a more concrete understanding about the contenders they could cast their ballots for.

Sex Workers For Hillary Clinton

While Clinton isn't receiving as much scrutiny for her stance on gay marriage as her GOP counterparts, she certainly is getting attention for the rather unusual endorsements she has received from individuals in the sex industry.

The prostitutes at Dennis Hof's famous Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Carson City, NV, launched a campaign called "Hookers for Hillary," backing the former Secretary of State for the Oval Office in 2016.

The sex workers cite Clinton's positions on healthcare, foreign policy and the economy as their reasons for supporting the Democratic candidate in her White House bid.

And, weeks after the "Hookers" launch, Hillary received another endorsement from "Hustler" mogul Larry Flynt, who focused his attention on Clinton's potential impact on the Supreme Court.

"We've had a right-leaning court for half a century," Flynt explained his support in an interview with Bloomberg. "But, if Hillary gets in, chances are she's going to have an opportunity to appoint two, maybe three justices … and we could shift the balance there."

Alas, no matter how traditionally grandmother-esque Clinton attempts to cast herself, her campaign will uniquely be impacted by the sex industry support behind her.

Bruce Jenner

On April 24, reality television star and former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner spoke about his gender transition during a highly-anticipated interview with Diane Sawyer.

And, in a surprising twist, Jenner also came out as a Republican:

"I've just never been a big fan [of President Obama]," Jenner explained. "I'm kind of more on the conservative side."

Jenner "believe[s] in the Constitution," he told Sawyer, confirming his Republican identity.

No, Jenner isn't running for office, but his story represents a clear intersection of sex, gender and politics. It also demonstrates the incredibly diverse fabric of the American people.

Jenner showed that, yes, you can be transgender and a Republican. You can support whichever political party best serves your needs, and you shouldn't be swayed to one or the other because of what individuals say your gender, race and sexual orientation should drive you toward.

The media and politicians, of course, took note of Jenner's comments. It didn't take long for GOP contender Rick Santorum to support and "respect" Jenner in his announcement.

"If he says he's a woman, then he's a woman," Santorum told reporters. "My responsibility as a human being is to love and accept everybody. Not to criticize people for who they are."

Expectedly, there will be more statements on Jenner as 2016 nears. His announcement presents the opportunity for candidates to, again, weigh in on America's diverse fabric of gender and sexual identity.